Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has garnered both praise and ire for its blistering difficulty (here's our review). However, the creator of acclaimed indie platformer Celeste has ideas for making the game more approachable. FromSoftware’s latest epic has become somewhat notorious for its lack of accessibility options, more so than previous titles such as Dark Souls and Bloodborne.
Celeste released January 2018 and gained widespread praise for its challenging gameplay and emotional storytelling. Critics singled out the game’s Assist Mode in particular for its myriad of helpful accessibility options. Celeste is a hardcore platformer in the vein of Super Meat Boy, but players can choose to reduce the game’s overall speed, gain infinite stamina, become invincible, and more. The idea behind the mode is to allow less-skilled players, or those with physical disabilities, to enjoy the game in whatever way suits them. By contrast, Sekiro is tuned to a single, steep difficulty. Performing well requires a high-degree of reflexive skills and precision. Although many players enjoy FromSoftware’s approach, an increasingly vocal group of players have expressed a desire for multiple difficulties in order to enjoy Sekiro without the headaches.
One of those players is Matt Thorson, the creator of Celeste. As reported by PSGamesN, he took to Twitter to express that while he was loving his time with Sekiro, the game could stand to be a bit more inviting. His thread presents a list of possible options to feature in a hypothetical Assist Mode. Suggestions include reducing the combat speed and infinite Posture (i.e. the player’s guard). Later in the thread he suggests that this mode only be accessible from the main menu, per save file. This would make the Assist options unavailable to those playing “normally” and eliminate the temptation to bump things down mid-playthrough.
If Sekiro had a Celeste-style Assist mode:— Matt Thorson 🍂 (@MattThorson) April 3, 2019
-Combat Speed (50-100%, sets game speed while enemies are aggro'd)
-Resurrections (+1, or infinite)
-Invisible While Sneaking
-Invincible (while drinking gourd, or always)
Despite making a seemingly fair assessment, that hasn’t stopped many of the FromSoftware faithful from lambasting Thorson’s ideas as “game breaking.” Some say that the tough difficulty is what defines a FromSoftware experience - that the very presence of Assist options would ruin the entire game. Conversely, plenty of players and critics have joined Thorson’s rallying cry for accessibility options. Their main argument is that Sekiro’s alluring world and combat should be more attainable to those who neither possess the time nor physical ability to master its brutal challenge.
The line in the sand that this debate has drawn can be both enlightening and frustrating to watch. Wishing to preserve what fans feel is the intended experience is an understandable sentiment, especially from an artistic perspective. However, shooting down completely optional accessibility modes in belief that they sully the experience seems a tad elitist. Regardless, it’s doubtful that FromSoftware will implement such changes to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. If they did, though, maybe it would look something like this.